and sometimes I have no answers
May 18, 2007
My daughter has recently decided to run away from me in stores, or hide behind racks of clothing only to emerge when my voice gets loud and panic has set in. Since she is only four years old she thinks she is completely in control of the situation.
So over the past few weeks I have been telling her that if she hides like that someone else might see her, decide that she is cute, and take her home with them to keep for her very own. She has had numerous explanations of what she would do if someone tried to take her. Most of them firmly delusional, unless she does actually develop super powers that enable her to fly or scale buildings.
I have gently explained that an adult could pick her up and run away. Or at least I thought I was being gentle. But maybe I have become so used to all the bad things that happen in this world that my idea of gentle isn’t really gentle at all. Having an adult grab you and run away with you is gentle compared to what actually happens to many kidnapped children, but she doesn’t know that.
For the past week she has been up every night, coming into our bed. She rarely wakes in the middle of the night and does this anymore. At this point she is far more likely to get up very early in the morning and come into our bed.
Last night at bedtime she was very upset. Finally she said through her tears that she didn’t like having the window open in her bedroom. She was afraid someone was going to come in her room at night and steal her. Every one of the reasons I gave her for why this wouldn’t happen were met with explanations from her as to why it could. And all of them were possible. In theory, someone really could get a ladder and push it under her window and climb into her room. It could happen I suppose. It has happened to other people before.
And so I gathered her up from her bed and settled her into my bed, where she felt safe.
And as I left the room and saw her so tiny laying in the middle of this immense bed, my heart broke a little. Knowing that something as simple as my “big bed” will not be able to keep her safe forever.
Edited to add a clarification:
I do not believe in scaring children. I don’t think that telling my children someone might take them home is damaging. My daughter wanted to know why she can’t hide from me. “Why would you get scared, Mommy? I am right here!”
This post was really more about me and my fears, than about her. She thought up the ladder thing by herself. She knows nothing about any of the kidnap cases, even the one that is currently being talked about. I think her fears are probably appropriate for her age.
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